BANGKOK (AFP) – The UN’s refugee company on Monday (Dec 20) known as for Thailand to permit them “urgent access” to greater than 3,000 Myanmar refugees who fled to the dominion to flee combating in conflict-wracked Karen state.
Clashes between Myanmar’s navy and the Karen National Union – a insurgent group vocally against a junta which deposed a civilian authorities in February – broke out final week in a city not removed from the Thai border.
Some 700 refugees crossed the river into Thailand’s Tak province on Thursday, fleeing artillery shelling and small arms hearth.
By Monday, the quantity had ballooned to three,900 as a consequence of continued combating, the UNHCR mentioned.
“UNHCR is concerned for the welfare of these civilians and has approached the Thai authorities with offers of assistance,” it mentioned in an announcement.
“UNHCR and NGOs have requested urgent access to the refugees to ascertain and deliver to them the necessary humanitarian and protection assistance.”
Provincial authorities mentioned late Monday about 3,500 refugees stay in two areas on the Thai facet, as dozens have regularly returned since combating appeared to have ceased.
“Thai authorities are providing humanitarian assistance and transportation for those who volunteer to return to Myanmar by transporting them from the banks of Moei River,” mentioned an announcement launched by Tak province.
But Ms Naw K’Nyay Paw, general-secretary of Karen Women’s Organisation, mentioned the vast majority of persons are nonetheless afraid.
“It’s very tense and the fighting is still continuing in some areas,” she instructed AFP. “I don’t think it is representing the true feelings of the refugees.”
The newest wave of some 1,500 folks on Sunday got here after renewed combating broke out in Mae Htaw Thalay, a city bordering Thailand the place displaced folks have been sheltering.
“There was artillery shooting in the area… The KNU tried to move them to a safer place,” a Karen state resident instructed AFP, including that hundreds of displaced folks, together with kids, have been despatched operating because the shelling continued for hours.
“We heard shooting close to us and we tried to flee… We could only leave the village after they suspended shooting for a while around 7pm,” he mentioned.
Junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun confirmed the combating in Mae Htaw Thalay on Monday, including that the navy at the moment are “trying to control the situation by negotiating with KNU.”
The clashes kicked off final week after state media reported junta troops entered KNU territory and arrested a number of dissidents, together with a former lawmaker from Ms Aung San Suu Kyi’s ousted authorities.
The insurgent group – certainly one of greater than 20 ethnic armed teams holding territories in Myanmar’s border areas – has been a staunch opponent of the junta, offering shelter to anti-coup dissidents.